Hey, you: Do you trust full-grown adults to decide for themselves whether to inhale the smoke produced by setting fire to a leafy plant?
Well, if you call the Golden State home and you vote, come November, you're in for a bummer: The one issue the candidates for governor of both major parties agree on — other than hair styles (think Telly Savalas) and gay marriage (you betcha) — is that the state of California must continue the medieval hysteria of prohibiting cultivation of a dumb plant, while maintaining jacked-up black market price incentives for violent foreign drug cartels to push awful, seed-laden brick-weed on us.
Voters up the coast in Oregon and Alaska will be asked this fall to decide whether to join the state of Washington in legalizing all of the rest of the West Coast. We can know with certainty, meanwhile, that no matter which odd-looking, bald liberal dude gets keys to the statehouse, California will remain a Colombia on the Pacific.
As long as the opportunity remains, I suppose we denizens of the Emerald Triangle should make lemonade.
If the bankers are right — and if the proliferation of local billboards advertising dirt (of all things) are any indication — cannabis prohibition could be the last, best chance some of us have of putting that spare bedroom to work paying off the mortgage.
And while I don't personally mind if your water-sucking greenhouse complex is running our rivers dry (people gotta eat before fish), the fact that the national paper of record is now editorializing in favor of ending marijuana prohibition on the federal level doesn't exactly bode well for career sustainability.
Have you ever wondered what this place would look like without its estimated $1 billion annual infusion of black market capital?
Come November 2016, we'll all find out.
Whither Little-Vegas North?
It's always struck me as barbaric: the demolition of huge, Las Vegas casinos, only to construct bigger, often tackier gaming facilities on their cleared footprints.
Didn't Old Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack take up a famously debauched residency at the Sands?
Weren't lovers betrothed in holy matrimony at the Stardust, an Elvis impersonator drawling through the wedding vows?
These places, these pulverized buildings are a living history, a remnant of our past, destroyed — their tragic ouster fueled by Middle America's base pirate fantasies.
So it is with a sort of Luxor-induced dread these days that I drive past the horrendously bland, add-water-and-stir McDonald's box going up on Eureka's Fourth Street. A rowdy, frontier crossroads of the Burger Wars, that little segment of Fourth Street holds some of my earliest and fondest memories of a Eureka that's gone forever.
I can't swear that the Mickey D's that's being replaced was Eureka's first chain restaurant drive-through — but as a kid growing up in the 1970s, it was the only one in the county that I or any of my friends knew of, and it's funny how resilient images of a tray of fattening, salty food and a little, plastic-wrapped toy can be.
Long before disparagement of the golden arches as "corporate death burger" had come into vogue — before "cholesterol" had entered our vocabulary, before Stephen King made all clowns seem sinister — that McDonald's exuded an intoxicating, Narnia-like mystique.
Without the Bayshore Mall or another burger chain offering competition, it occupied Ground Zero of a sort of localized Las Vegas Strip: Within a block or two in either direction were Sharkey's video game arcade and the funky, creepy Joke Shop novelty store, where a wart-covered old man sold whoopee cushions and hand-buzzers over a crude wooden counter.
That's why, a few months ago when I caught sight of the hardhats ripping apart that old red-and-yellow-trimmed building, with its tallow-scented walls, I had to pull off to the side of the road to fight back the bitter tears of nostalgia.
It feels weird bringing this up, but even though it's owned by a soulless, corporate grease-merchant, don't our shrines of childhood bliss at least deserve a goodbye party?
True College Radio, At Last?
It's been 50 years, give or take, since Humboldt State University began broadcasting KHSU, its flagship radio station — a functional, if tepid, source for commercial-free news and music. Locals have come to count on its reliable, NPR-driven format, and for its extended blocks of classical music.
But no discerning listener would mistake KHSU for a true college radio station — the kind operated by student DJs with names like "Shady" who sport ironic mustaches and collect 1960s Czech skiffle bands on vinyl.
Alas, a new signal has crackled to life on our radio dials: KRFH (Radio Free Humboldt) features student DJs and managers and is blessedly devoid of Ira Glass. Broadcasting since April at 105.1 FM (it's broadcast online since the mid '90s), the upstart would appear to be the university's bid for full-blown college radio legitimacy.
Make no mistake, the American College Radio Format is a uniquely obscure species of radio, restricting membership to campus stations that never would deign to air a commercially popular artist. I hope these kids can pull it off, and I will allow a year's grace period before rendering final judgment.
But every time they air tracks by Queen, The Beatles or Bastille, KRFH's street cred comes tumbling down.
Ryan Hurley is a Eureka-based attorney. Follow him if you dare: @BuhneTribune.